By Blessing Odega
Jos – Mr Celestine Okwudili, Programme Coordinator of the Good Governance Oxfam in Nigeria, has appealed to the Federal Government to check inequality among citizens and poverty in the country.
Okwudili told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Thursday that “if inequality and poverty is left unchecked, it threatens to pull our societies apart as it gives rise to crime and insecurity”.
According to him, Oxfam is resolute in addressing this gaps in Nigeria by utilising a suite of approaches designed to improve lives in the short-term and create long-term sustainable changes.
He said Oxfam had commenced the use of empowerment of the people to demand transparency and accountability, which he said, was fundamental to changing Nigeria’s story of a rich nation of poor people.
Okwudili explained that the organisation was currently working to mobilise Nigeria’s growing middle class by building the capacity of the citizens to influence the policy choices of government, demand better service delivery and hold the state accountable for delivery.
Oxfam, he added, was working with the private sector to create economic opportunities for the rural poor through the provision of jobs and teaching various skills which in turn empowers them to be financially independent.
“Through our delivery work, both directly and with our partners, we are bridging the gap of poverty, via providing economic opportunities that will support women and men in Nigeria to sustainably improve their livelihoods,” he said.
According to him, Oxfam in bridging the gap of inequality, especially among women, is working with religious institutions and the media on changing social attitudes toward women’s rights and by empowering women to be financially independent.
“Our work on addressing vulnerable peoples’ needs includes a focus on increasing the incomes of rural women smallholders.
“Change in women’s lives will occur when women have sufficient and stable incomes, financial empowerment gives women a voice and it gives them power and influence in their households, communities and at state and national level,” he explained.
He said that the issue of women’s low participation in politics which was also another aspect of inequality was also been addressed by Oxfam.
“Our work on citizen empowerment, include a specific focus on women political participation, ensuring that women play active roles in politics.’’